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Nine years ago today, I was sitting at home with my first boyfriend, Nesta. My parents were separated at the time but they were both out together at my brother’s basketball practice. I was never allowed to have a boyfriend, let alone have any friends come over to hang at my house. If my parents ever agreed on anything, it was their grand idea to keep me locked up in my bedroom until I turned 30.

Surprised to hear voices, I sprinted from my room like a Candace Bergen phone-line commercial to the back door and realized who was home. I remember telling Nesta to find a place to hide before I left my room but as soon as I saw my father’s face I knew we were both done for. It must have been those militant instincts that kicked into high gear because he didn’t even acknowledge the fact that he nearly knocked me down as he B-lined to my room. Ma started shouting, “Who’s upstairs?!” but I didn’t even get a chance to respond because before I knew it, my dad was dragging Nesta by the neck of his shirt down the stairway. Dad demanded us to join him in the living room for what seemed like hours of interrogation, but not even an hour later, Nesta slipped out the door as dad boldly exclaimed, “Get out. I better not see you again.”

That night, my father filed a restraining order against the only person that told me they loved me up to that point, when I couldn’t think of a single reason to love myself. The next three years were very difficult for me. My parents solemnly neglected to pay attention to me unless it was to remind me how much of a whore or slut I was for having a boyfriend behind their back. I remember spending most of my class time in the Guidance Counsellor’s office crying over how embarrassed, lonely, and unloved I felt and can distinctly remember expressing concern for my ability to ever be optimistic about my life again.

A lot has changed since that time… plenty remains the same. My brother now plays for his university’s varsity basketball team and just this past weekend, both my parents were in attendance. Ma couldn’t make it through the game without crying over the fact that my father brought his new girlfriend to the game when they ain’t even divorced yet. Luckily, I live comfortably in a bigger city that’s a safe distance away from the hole in the wall I’m supposed to call ‘home’. I’ve grown up a lot since then; I love myself more and forgive myself for everything that once was. I could go on about my accomplishments but I’m most proud of the fact that I don’t have to ask anyone for anything, save for a compliment every now and again (wink). Point is, the struggle made me stronger.

Nesta spent the next three years writing to me every day in a couple of black journals that I now keep next to my own. He has inspired a lot of my writing and I owe him a lot for the woman I’ve become.

Nesta, I hope all is fair in love n’ ball.

Britta B.

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